The Chilean film Neruda deconstructs what a biopic means. It ingeniously merges fact and fiction to tell the story of the hunt and eventual exile of the famed Chilean poet, communist leader and popular Senator Pablo Neruda to amusing effect. Unconventionally subversive in its approach, the fictional elements of the film introduces a bumbling inspector who seeks to chase down Neruda but always seems to be two steps behind him, even when they are often in the same room together. The purpose of this fictional character is to create storytelling anxiety, frequently employing a droll, amusing tone, the reason for which becomes clear during the clever third act.

Director Pablo Larrain, whose body of work has explored the tumultuous political history of his native country, impresses with an approach that questions the role of narrative (and the narrator) within storytelling. The technique employs many of Neruda’s favorite literary styles including surrealism, the amalgamation of history and politics and a passion for the arts. The film creates an aura full of precise period details with uniformly excellent performances delivered by both leads, as they indulge in a deliciously cerebral cat and mouse game. The character of Neruda himself is presented as a fascinating paradox – a hedonistic womanizer who cares about the common worker and is seemingly thrilled by being tracked. After all, what is the point of running if there is never any threat of being caught? The film answer to this question is one of its unique surprises.

Rating: ★★★★☆

About Faizan Rashid

A veteran Dubai based film critic, Faizan has been reviewing movies for nearly a decade. His work has been published in local newspapers such as 7days and on prestigious online websites such as MSN Arabia and